The Difference Between Balayage and Ombre (Definitive Guide)


7. What Is Balayage

Balayage is a French word meaning “to paint” or “to sweep.” It offers a soft, sun-kissed sweeping color from root to end. It is technically a highlighting technique but is not to be confused with the foiled highlights of the past. Gone are the days of sitting in the salon under the heat with a pound of foils in your hair in order to be blonder. Nowadays, balayage has taken over the traditional foiled highlights as the new way to brighten and lighten your hair.

Balayage involves the hair colorist hand-painting soft pieces of color from the roots that gradually become more saturated toward the end. Because the highlights are much softer at the root, the regrowth lines are less noticeable, making it the perfect choice for those who want the look without the upkeep every two to four weeks.

What the process looks like: You’ll want to bring photos of inspiration for your ideal hair look because each stylist can freehand how heavily to highlight your hair or not. You can ask for a “rooty” look if you like the lived-in color which means they will begin the highlights a few inches down from your root. Alternatively, the hair stylist can place the highlights further up to the base or directly at the root for a fresher vibe. No foil or meche is used.

The best way to differentiate it from ombre? It’s a highlighted look.

Perfect for: Those wanting customized highlights without the harsh lines. It’s also ideal for brunettes who want a natural-looking blonde ‘do.

Balayage Process